Monday, March 8, 2010

ACLU New York Times Ad on Obama and Military Commissions

The national American Civil Liberties Union published a full-page ad in the Sunday New York Times calling on President Obama not to back down from his administration’s decision to prosecute the 9/11 suspects in civilian courts. The ad comes in response to news reports that the Obama administration is on the verge of reversing Attorney General Eric Holder's November decision, turning instead to the discredited military commission system.

“We placed this ad because it’s critical that Americans know what is at stake here: nothing less than America’s commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the national ACLU. "The military commissions are seriously flawed and unprepared to handle these complex cases. If President Obama reverses his attorney general’s principled decision under political pressure, it will strike a devastating blow to American values and do serious damage to our nation’s credibility. We urge the president to do the right thing and keep these cases in federal court, where they belong.”

The ACLU also sent a letter to President Obama urging him to keep the 9/11 trials in civilian court and detailing the problems of the military commission system and its inability to provide fair, effective trials in these cases. The letter, signed by Romero, states:

"I believe that you will face few, if any, greater challenges to who we are as a nation and to our commitment to the rule of law than this question of sustaining the Attorney General’s principled decision to use federal criminal courts for these trials... The trials of the defendants alleged to have had roles in the September 11 attacks are the most important terrorism trials – and arguably the most important criminal trials – in the entire history of the nation. It would be a colossal mistake to reverse the administration’s decision to try these defendants in federal criminal court and again relegate these landmark trials to irretrievably defective military commissions."